Early Betting, Bracket Predictions for All 32 First-Round Games
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No Saint Mary’s. Absurd. Arizona State instead of Louisville or Notre Dame. Come on, committee. Michigan State and Duke headed for a Sweet 16 matchup? That will screw up some future bets. But, let’s face it, the real tragedy Sunday night wasn’t how the committee ignored high-quality teams for more suspect, high-profile squads under the guise of “stronger opponents.” I think we can all agree it was the selection show broadcast. From the format to the technical glitches, this one needs a reboot for 2019.
The good news? Now we get to the games. So let’s do it.
Editor’s note: Spreads from 5Dimes on Sunday evening. Check out live odds and betting percentages here.
#1 Kansas (-15) vs. #16 Penn
Thursday, 2 p.m. ET | Wichita, KS
Analysis: This is one of the worst draws I’ve ever seen for a No. 1 seed. First, I was surprised to see Penn as a No. 16. Second, it’s not a great matchup for the Jayhawks. Penn will slow the game up, limiting Kansas in transition (where it is deadly). Kansas is also one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country (No. 12 at 40.3%), but guess which team ranks No. 1 in the tourney (and No. 2 in the nation) in 3-point defense? The Penn Quakers at 29.4%. Penn is also a well-coached team that plays such an analytically smart game. They look for easy 2s and open 3s. If Udoka Azubuike is healthy, this is a foul-risk game. While Kansas will have a massive athletic advantage and is now better equipped to play without Azubuike (as it showed in the Big 12 tourney), Penn can hang. This will look more like a 15/2 game than a 16/1.
Early ATS lean: Penn (+15)
Early bracket lean: Kansas — Stuckey